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How to Spot Fake Health News Online?

Ever since the new coronavirus came in news, there were headlines on weird information regarding this virus. It took months for the researchers to find out this viral strain and how does it spread. yet the internet was telling various fake health news online especially regarding coronavirus during all this period. Unfortunately, this news didn’t start with coronavirus but some of them were always around making people believe them.

So, how to know what you are reading is not genuine health news but a fake one, just to grab your attention?

The answer is easy. The new study highlights the importance of originality of news, especially health-related news in order to control emergency situations like this current pandemic.

Also read- Doctors Remove a 1.5 Inches Long Worm from Women Suffering from a Sore Throat

The researchers were able to find the efficacy of a tip sheet that was sent to a popular social media forum, Facebook to help people spot fake health news online.

After going through lots of criticism on the widespread of fake news online during the last presidential election in the US, Facebook finally came up with a plan. It partnered with another non-profit body named the First Draft and created a new tip-sheet introduced on Facebook to identify fake health news.

Facebook made it available in 14 different countries allowing posting full-length ads all around the world. To this date, this step was the biggest digital awareness intervention, introduced by any company.

The latest study published by the National Academy of Sciences looks analyzed this intervention to determine if it was successful or not. Various research teams from numerous universities joined hands to determine the accuracy of this tip sheet. Some of these institutes are; the University of Michigan, Washington University, and Princeton University in the US.

The results of this study show that common Facebook users are able to differentiate between genuine news and false health news online, with the help of these tips.

Although the results of this effective group were relatively small it is encouraging for the partner groups to see that a simple intervention can help people differentiate between the original and fake news. It also helped people to percept the mainstream media reporting with the help of the tips. However, it made them question some of the original reports too.

Still, it needs more detailed work, tools, and awareness campaigns to help people find out the truth behind every information online.

Also read- Chinese Virologist Becomes the First Whistleblower of Beijing Coverup story on Coronavirus after Landing in the US

This fake and misleading news is not a new thing on social media but when it comes to health, all experts agree that there should be a check on what goes online.

People mostly believe whatever they see online which somehow affects their emotions. And during this phase of emotional vulnerability when they are in the middle of a pandemic, this increases the chance to believe fake coronavirus news too.

People are curious to know what other countries and scientists are doing to prevent coronavirus. They want to know when would this pandemic end and whether or not it can come back. All of this suggests an emotional attachment which is the biggest reason behind believing and sharing these fake coronavirus news online.

The experts suggest the following while assessing any information that they suspect to be fake health news online.

  • Double-check the source
  • Read what other people are commenting below it
  • Critically analyze the intentions of the sharer
  • Whether or not it is a personal opinion

Areeba Hussain

The author is a fulltime medical and healthcare writer. She graduated in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. Her areas of prime interest are medicine, medical technology, disease awareness, and research analysis. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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